Art and Culture in Multicultural Melbourne

Our visual sociology for March to June 2015 includes the Japanese Summer Festival in Melbourne, extraordinary public art in Canberra and a quick trip to Sydney.

World’s Most Liveable City

Melbourne: the world’s most liveable city! In late 2014 Melbourne was named number 1 of 150 capital cities in the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Global Liveability Index. This is the fourth time we topped the survey. We rated highly in healthcare, education and infrastructure. Part of Melbourne’s appeal is our multiculturalism. First and second generation migrants (people born overseas and their children) make up around half of all Victorians. Melbournians come from over 200 cultural backgrounds, speak over 260 languages, and belong to 135 different religions. 2 March

I took this photo off Hosier Lane. Artist: kilproductions. See the artist’s website.

Secret History of Medley Hall

Do you know the colourful past of Medley Hall? Located on Drummond Street Carlton, it’s one of the many beautiful buildings owned by Melbourne University but it has a history linked to Melbourne’s criminal past. It was built in 1893 for Leah Abrahams, who was the widow of a small arms dealer. The building was initially named Benvenuta and later leased to the Government, serving as the Arbitration Court Offices. It was vacated briefly but by the 1930s it had been turned into an Italian club that hosted dances, an orchestra and boxing matches on Sundays. A bullet hole in the entrance stained glass windows was supposedly evidence of a target meant for a Melbourne wine maker. The Italian Consulate briefly gained ownership of the estate in the 1940s but after Italy’s participation in WWII it was given to the University, which used it as a hostel until 1953. It was upgraded and renamed Medley Hall in 1955, and it became a residence for students from Australia and abroad. In 2009, it was closed for renovations for two years but has been open since 2011. (5 March)

Chasing the goat

Lunar New Year celebrations have officially ended. 6 March 2015


Moomba time. Experiencing controlled fear.  7 March

Japanese Summer Festival

[A young girl dressed in a light purple kimono with a large red bow stands in the foreground speaking with a friend who is another woman of colour, though she is not in costume. A crowd of people walk past in the background.]

I was at the Melbourne Japanese Summer Festival Fed Square! Lots of people were in various forms of traditional dress, such as this geisha, as well as others representing various modern sub-cultures.
There are over 35,000 Australians who were born in Japan (0.2% of national population). Most Japan-born Australians live in NSW (34%) and Queensland (29%), but Victoria is home to the second-biggest community. It is home to over 6,800 Japanese-Australians (19%). Most of these migrants live in the more affluent suburbs of Melbourne, Southbank, Carlton, North Melbourne, and Docklands. 8 March 2015


George Kamikawa & Noriko Tadano playing a blend of Blues and traditional Japanese music. At the Japanese Summer Festival.

Terrifying animatronics in the Western suburbs. 1 April 2015

Skyspace by James Turrell, USA artist.  13 June 2015

Climbing up the Sydney Opera House.  20 June 2015